A diverse group of local food experts from across the state submitted a set of recommendations to the Iowa Legislature that are intended to improve the farm to table supply chain.
The Farm to Table Task Force commissioned during the 2021 state legislative session and led by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach met over the last several months.
The charge was to identify strategies to improve the farm to table supply chain in Iowa, with a special focus on increasing sales to institutional purchasers, including schools. The task force consisted of 12 local food experts representing farmers, distributors, food pantries, small scale processors and customers.
“To meet this charge, it was important to understand our state’s challenges and strengths within the farm to table supply chain, to then be able to confirm priorities,” said John Lawrence, Iowa State University vice president for extension and outreach.
Staff from IDALS and ISU Extension and Outreach also connected with additional partners across the state to listen and understand challenges, successes and potential recommendations for the local and regional food system.
The task force began meeting in September, and in under four months its members produced five key recommendations that were shared with the Legislature in early December. The task force met three times throughout the fall of 2021, of which public comment was allowed at the end of each session.
“I want to thank the task force members and all the stakeholders who provided input during this process,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “The recommendations from the task force will help develop and grow markets for Iowa producers while also helping to strengthen our local and regional food systems. We look forward to continuing to work on building this important market into the future.”
Recommendations from the task force include:
- Improving sales of local foods to institutions, including farm to school and early care efforts, by increasing the efficiency of local food distribution and awareness of local options for institutional buyers.
- Developing and supporting expanded processing opportunities for local foods.
- Researching and increasing support for local food farming and scaling up local food agriculture.
- Revitalizing and expanding the Local Food and Farm Advisory Council.
- Increasing the usage of the Farm to Food Donation Tax Credit and exploring other food donation programs.
The Task Force also determined which of these recommendations would require legislative action, funding needs, and potential timeline for implementation.
The full report is available online.
Task Force members included:
- Secretary Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Co-Chair.
- John Lawrence, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Co-Chair.
- Jan Libbey, One Step at a Time Gardens.
- Bob Howard, Country View Dairy.
- Corinne Rowe, Rowe’s Red Cows.
- Penny Brown Huber, Prairie Rivers of Iowa.
- Darrell Goering, Milo Locker.
- Steve Winders, Loffredo Fresh Produce.
- Jason Grimm, Iowa Valley RC&D; Grimm Family Farm.
- Kelly Foss, Des Moines Farmers Market.
- David Smigo, Cornell College Dining; Bon Appetit.
- Ellen Walsh-Rosmann, Harlan CSD Food Service; Farm Table Delivery.
- Matt Unger, Des Moines Area Religious Council.
- Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union.